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Health and safety

This information is designed as a starting point if you are thinking of setting up your own business, not a complete guide. Health and Safety is a serious issue and we suggest you get advice if you are in any doubt about your responsibilities.

Health and Safety is not just for big businesses with scores of employees, it is equally important for a business of only one or two people. By law you have to look after the health and safety of your employees, yourself, and anyone associated with your business. This can include visitors to the site or simply people passing by.

One simple way to help protect your employees is to provide a well stocked first aid kit for use on site. This should include a range of adhesive bandages, sterile eye pads, triangular bandages, safety pins and anything else you think appropriate for the situation.

And remember, as a decorator you may well be working at times in close proximity to other people so it could be worth considering public liability insurance cover which protects your business against claims by the public in the event of an accident.

A good source of additional information is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). You can find their website here or phone their Infoline for information, advice and support on 0845 345 0055

The ten key objectives

The HSE has ten key recommendations to help new businesses comply with health and safety regulations:

1) Carry out a risk assessment

This involves identifying the hazards you and your employees are likely to come across during work time. As a decorator you will be very much concerned with site issues, which means scaffolding, hoist and ladder safety, hazardous substances, protective clothing, tool and machinery safety will be among the items to assess. You can download a useful guide here

2) Compile a Health and Safety policy

If your business employs five or more people you are required by law to have a written Health and Safety policy. You need to put it in a place where all employees can view it such as the staff handbook. You can download a Health and Safety policy here

3) Obtain employers' liability insurance

You must have insurance unless you are a family business employing only close relatives. This is to insure your business against employees' injuries or disease arising from their work activities. The certificate of insurance must be displayed where staff can read it and you could be fined if you don't display a current policy. You can download an introduction to employers' liability insurance here

4) Provide health and safety training

You'll need to provide free health and safety training for your staff, especially for new employees as part of the induction process. You should also provide refresher training to workers who need it, especially if legislation or procedures change. You can download a guide to training here

5) Provide basic health, safety and welfare needs

Your business premises must be a safe and healthy environment with adequate lighting, heating, toilets, washing facilities drinking water, ventilation and cleanliness. You can download a short guide to your responsibilities here

6) Consult employees

You are required to consult your employees, either directly or by a representative, on matters of health and safety. If there is a trade union they can ask you to set up a safety committee to supervise policy. You can download a leaflet on your legal obligations here

7) Report workplace accidents

Major injuries, work related deaths, diseases and dangerous incidents have to be reported to the HSE or your local authority. You also need to keep an accident book in which you keep records of any relevant incidents for at least three years. You can find more information here

8) Get assistance

The law says you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties. This doesn't have to be an outside consultant, it could be one or more of your workers if they have the skills, or even yourself, or a combination of these. You can find more about this here

9) Display the health and safety law poster

If you employ anyone you must display HSE's health and safety law poster or alternatively give your employees the HSE leaflet: 'Health and safety law: What you should know'. The poster and leaflet (in packs of 25) are available from HSE Books on 01787 881 165, and you can download a copy of the HSE leaflet here

10) Register your business

All new businesses need to register with the HSE or local authority. Which one with will depend on your type of business. You can find more advice on who to register with here

The above information is correct at the time of writing (July 2009) but please check the details are up-to-date with the various organisations listed.

The contents of this guidance are for information only and no guarantee, representation or warranty of any kind is given (whether express or implied) in relation to any of the information, advice or opinions expressed in it. Whilst ICI Paints AkzoNobel have made all reasonable efforts to ensure that statements appearing in this guidance are accurate, ICI Paints AkzoNobel disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the information, advice and opinions contained in this guidance. ICI Paints AkzoNobel reserves the right to make any amendments or alterations to this guidance at any time, without notice.

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